Flavio Scorsato - Behind The Lens

Flavio Scorsato grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2002 Flavio traveled to California to study English but eventualy ended up calling it home. Flavio now resides in San Diego where he works as a lifestyle/editorial photographer.  

Heavily influenced by his father; also a photographer Flavio believes the key to getting great images is through the bond you create with your subject. With his great use of lighting, framing and composition Flavio is able to create some of the most striking images in Martial Arts. 

His work with with Rickson Gracie, The Mendes Brothers and Damian Maia stand out as some of the most iconic imagery in the grappling community and that's why he's one of our featured photographers in our 'Behind the Lens' series. 

'' Most of my best JJ and MMA photos were shot for the UK based magazine, Jiu-Jitsu Style (@bjjstyle). Since they were all editorial and mostly cover shots there was always a lot of freedom. For my JJ photos or any other portraits, I like to study the subject beforehand and try to come up with a concept that is simple but shows something about their style or personality, either through the location, light or framing. ''

Flavio has had the chance to photograph some of the sports biggest legends. One of Flavios most iconic shots is of 9th Degree Red Belt, Rickson Gracie.

‘’ Besides the pressure of photographing such an iconic JJ legend, when I was asked to photograph Rickson Gracie, my first thoughts were how do I photograph someone who doesn’t need any introductions. I didn’t want to take a picture on a mat, or doing any stunts, positions, meditation or anything similar to other images of him taken before. I didn’t even want to photograph him wearing a Jiu-Jitsu gi, as I thought anyone interested in Jiu-Jitsu would already know who  he was.

That is why I chose to take a big close up shot of his face with his eyes looking straight to the camera. The photo is also a homage to a photographer whom I admire the work and became famous for his big close ups, Martin Schoeller. On a big close up, there is not much to show other than the subjects’ face but it is important to capture the perfect expression and bring some of the personality of the subject to the surface. I also like that shot because the technical aspects of it. ’’ 

Shot with a Canon 5D with a Zeiss 100 mm macro lens, two KinoFlo light fixtures ,two LED panels and lots of black flags to shade the light. 


Flavios strong connection with his subjects is evident in his image series with UFC/Grappling standout Damian Maia. His intimate look into Maias preparations during the lead up to a fight offers the viewer a rare insight into the mind of an athlete moments before competition.  

‘’ Damian and I have been friends for a long time,  I had the opportunity to follow him and the team through many training camps, and countless UFC fights. There are a lot of images taken at hotels, days, hours and sometimes minutes before the fight that I like. This is one of them, taken at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, a moment of serenity and concentration before the fight. There is so much going on in the fighter’s mind in a moment like this, that most of us can’t even imagine, and watching Demian disconnecting himself from everything else in a busy hotel room and meditating about what is ahead of him makes this image one of my favorites.’’  

Shot with a Canon 5D and a 24-70 mm 2.8 Canon. 

Whilst on a trip to NYC with Maia, Flavio had the opportunity to photograph Jiu-Jitsu legend, Marcelo Garcia  

‘’I was going to NYC with Demian to attend a UFC event, we planned to visit Marcelo while we were there. I spoke with Marcelo about taking some pictures of him and asked what he was doing for fun besides training JJ, and he said he was really into cruising the streets of Manhattan, sometimes at night, on his fixed gear bike, which it is pretty crazy considering how congested the city is and how crazy people drive out there.  

I wanted to pitch this shoot to a magazine, but all the JJ magazines wanted photos on the mat or showing a technique, and no one wanted to publish lifestyle stuff back then. I think that was my first shoot for BJJ Style, and we approached the images and story from a lifestyle perspective. We ended shooting at the Brooklyn Bridge and by the Carrousel at Dumbo, focussing on Marcelo riding the bike around town and doing tricks on two wheels.’’ 

Shot with a Canon 5D and a Profoto B2 battery pack 

Be sure to follow Flavio on Instagram here to keep up to date with his work. 

Flavios Equiptment Of Choice 

Variety of strobe and continues lights

5D IV

85 mm 1.4 Zeiss 

45 mm TS 2.8 Canon 

24-35 mm 2.0 Sigma

24-70 mm 2.8 Canon